Fun. That was the key message behind the new Toyota Aygo at its press conference earlier this week. Fun, through customisation, an enjoyable driving experience and plenty of tech, is the way Toyota will market its Aygo to the crucial younger market – key customers of A-segment cars.
So, why am I talking about the Aygo when the MG3 here is a size bigger? Well, its competitive pricing (our top-of-the-range 3STYLE costs £9,999 without options) puts it as a direct rival of the Aygo. Sort of.
And first impressions are definitely fun. Its “shards” exterior graphics (£229) and “white on the tiles” mirror caps (£99) add that vital customisation that young buyers want. Apparently.
The fun factor continues inside. If it were bland, I’d probably be describing the MG3’s cabin as cheap and nasty. But certain elements do a great job of perking it up – the red bits of trim around the air vents, for example, and the red stitching on the steering wheel. It’s great that manufacturers are now producing cheap cars that aren’t simply basic transportation devices. You could buy this and it’d put a smile on your face.
That doesn’t change when you start the engine up. Sure, it’s a little old-fashioned – you have to really give it some revs, and then it sounds rather noisy – but keeps the revs high and it’s a hoot. In an age of turbo diesels, it’s a whizz to be able to keep a smallish capacity (1.5-litre) petrol wound up and make progress without risking your licence.
And the handling adds to the fun factor. Many mocked when the MG6 was recently voted as the best handling new car money can buy in this year’s Driver Power survey, but the MG3 really can be chucked about with vigour. The steering is direct and, combined with that revvy engine, it really eggs you on. It’s fun.
It’s a shame then, that when you attack a road in the way the MG3 so clearly wants you to, if the road surface is any less than perfect you will find yourself backing off to let the suspension catch up. This is where you’re reminded that the MG3 has been developed on a budget – while the handling is spot on, the ride quality is way behind. It’s the same in town, too – I found myself slowing down for speed bumps in a way I haven’t done since I sold my old MX-5.
So, it’s a fun start for the MG3. Today I’ll be taking it up to Longbridge to explore MG’s development facility, and drive a few other MG models. I’ll be interested to see if I still find it as fun after a motorway journey up the M1 in rush hour.